Friday, May 11, 2018

Buddy Read Update No. 3: Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation
(Dread Nation, Book 1)
Justina Ireland
Hardcover, 464 pages
Bilzer + Bray
April 3, 2018
African-American Fiction, Alternative History, American History, Diverse Reads, Fantasy, 
Feminist Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Horror, Humor, Paranormal Fiction, Satire,
Social Justice, Southern Gothic,
Young Adult Fiction

Be sure to visit Barb's blog to read her half of our "chat"! You can access her post HERE!

This post, as well as that of my fellow 
buddy reader, may contain spoilers!
Read at your own risk!

Both Barb and I have already finished this book, and will have our reviews up next week. What an AMAZING read this book has been (although some things did tick me off)! And it's been GREAT being able to share thoughts and insights on the same book with another book blogger! 

As I mentioned in last week's update, this book is VERY well-written, and the characters are SO real..... The female protagonist, Jane McKeene, is a VERY dynamic, strong character, and the author has skillfully used her as a spokesperson for social justice and feminist ideals. So these are the aspects of this novel that I've GREATLY enjoyed! And I'm SO glad the zombie element wasn't the main one in this book! Lol.

This will be our last update before our reviews. I hope you've all enjoyed our "chats"! We will DEFINITELY be doing more of these buddy reads in the future, as this one has been SO much fun!! (Just no horror novels, please, Barb! Lol.)

Here's our last "chat" on this book!

Barb: So now that we've had the big reveal about Jane's mother, does it make you feel any differently about her? It seems I've been up and down on my feelings about her and didn't care much for her and then did. Now I'm kind of back into the not liking category. Yes, we understand why she was so generous with the slaves, but she was living a false life. I can sort of see why she did it, but when she tried to kill her own daughter (I'm assuming just to keep her secret safe?), that kind of crossed a line for me.

Maria: You know, I've been going through the same type of "emotional roller-coaster" with Jane's mom. I can admire her for helping her fellow slaves, and really don't mind that she "lived a false life", pretending to be a white woman. She did this in order to survive, and I can't say I blame her for that. Besides, in her position as mistress of the plantation, "Rose Hill", she was indeed able to rescue many slaves. 

Having said the above, I do agree with you about the attempted drowning incident. In fact, I was horrified! So then my emotions, as well as opinion, switched again. I HATED her for attempting to kill an innocent child. And not only that, but HER OWN DAUGHTER! There's no justification for this type of thing! And she was doing it to protect her secret. So she was only thinking of herself. 

Remember when I asked you whether you thought that Jane's mom had ambivalent feelings about her daughter? I think somehow I picked up something lurking in the background, early on. Maybe I'm psychic! Lol.

So the final verdict is in: Jane's mom is yet another of this novel's despicable characters!

Barb: Along those lines, how did you feel about Jane killing her father? I really didn't mind. Sounds kind of harsh but he seems pretty despicable.
Maria: Oh, I TOTALLY minded that!! I was SO shocked when I read that part of the book!! I didn't like it at all!! I really think that Ireland could have had Jane kill her father in order to save her mother's life, as her father was beating her (the mother). (And how IRONIC that would have been!) That would have been in character for Jane. She was a heroic personality. But she killed him IN HIS SLEEP. Yes, she knew that he could have killed her mother at any point. But to kill her father IN COLD BLOOD..... This is totally HORRIFYING, especially considering the fact that she was a child when she did that! And then, on top of it, she LIED about the murder, not only to her mother and the other people at the plantation, but to the reader, as well.

This event, as well as the lying, plus her mother's attempt to kill Jane, has DEFINITELY affected my overall impression of the novel. Initially, it was overwhelmingly positive. Now, I'm not all gung-ho on it anymore.....Ireland just HAD to throw a couple of monkey wrenches into the works!

Barb: I really hated that Jane asked Kate to cozy up with the Sheriff. I get why she did it, but I felt badly for Kate. We can assume Jane knows her mother's secret, and do you think that played into her request of Kate?

Maria: Oh, I HATED this, too! And this was yet another surprise in the plot. This made me see Jane in a negative light for the first time. She was basically USING Kate. Yes, she had a plan which involved their escape from Summerland, but hey, the end does NOT justify the means. This was a manipulative scheme Jane engaged in. And to expect her BEST FRIEND (because, let's face it, by this point, she and Kate were, indeed, BFFs) to do something like this? And let's not forget that Kate SAVED her (Jane's) life. Had Kate not intervened, Jane could very well have died from the brutal whipping she received.

I'm not sure that the secret Jane's mom had been hiding played into this request. I just think it was rather, well, DESPICABLE (our favorite word, lol) for Jane to have made such a request of her friend. Maybe Jane felt there was no other choice, though.

Barb: What about Mr. Tinkerer (I can't remember his name and I don't have the book handy!) and his big reveal? I kind of have hopes for him and Jane together but do you think she would give in to her feelings with Mayor Carr's son?

Maria: I also had my hopes up for them, as there does seem to be attraction on both sides. His first name is Gideon, although he's known as "the tinkerer". I liked him a lot. He was the only man in Summerland who treated Jane with respect, plus he obviously admired her. He considered her a very intelligent woman. Furthermore, he was very kind to her, especially when he found out that Jane was being whipped. 

Jane was obviously shocked and surprised when she found out that he was related to Mayor Carr. However, I'm sure she then began to admire him for opposing his father's racist views and brutal methods of controlling African-Americans. So I think a romance could have developed. I certainly hope that Gideon will return in the sequel!

Barb: So we learn that Mr. Redfern was actually doing some good and he even let Jackson go. I knew more was going on with him.

Maria: I'm really happy about this! I didn't like that a Native American was being cast in the role of one of the villains in this novel, but it turned out that he was not really all that bad. This was a very nice surprise! I hope we see more of Mr. Redfern, as I'd like to see him helping "the cause" as much as possible!

Barb: So we've kind of touched on the controversy with this author and her representation of Native Americans. Does this affect your feelings on the book? I understand this is fantasy and alternative history. I read for enjoyment and try not to read too much into things. However, I think what bothers me the most is that Ireland comes across as such an activist, and has apparently brought other authors' actions into question, but has brushed off recent concerns regarding her writing. I have to admit, it does sort of taint my outlook on the book. However, I still want to read the next one. Like I said, it's an enjoyment thing. 

Maria: You know, it really doesn't make sense for Ireland to be such an activist regarding African-Americans, and then to be insensitive toward Native Americans. Prejudice is prejudice, no matter the ethnic group or race. On the other hand, I'm not sure that she has in fact been insensitive toward Native Americans. Yes, she did make Mr. Redfern sound like a villain, but then it turned out that he was actually working "behind the scenes" to help out Jane and her friends. (Although his dislike of Jane really bothers me. I wonder if that was "pretend", too.) 

I really need to do some research on this topic. However, I am already unhappy about the things I mentioned above, so, even if Ireland has in reality portrayed Native Americans fairly and objectively, I am not altogether satisfied with this book.

Well, folks, again, this is our last buddy read update. Just stay tuned for next week's reviews! 

This has been a fun and very enjoyable project that sparked some interesting discussions, and I'm ready to do more buddy reads with Barb in the future, as well as with any other book bloggers who would like to read books along with me! A great BIG THANK YOU to all of you who read and commented on our posts!!  <3  : )

What do you all think?
Have we piqued your curiosity
about this book?
Be sure to let us know!
Don't forget to visit Barb's blog
to get her side of the "chat"!



  1. I loved reading your answer Maria! We were definitely on the same page with a lot of our thoughts and you'll just have to forgive me for being glad Jane killed her father (although I do see the points you made). I'm really glad we both enjoyed this book and I am really looking forward to the second one. Maybe in a month or so we can find an urban fantasy or fantasy book to read - since King is out.

    1. Hi, Barb!

      Thanks so much for the compliment!! :) :)

      Yes, we were DEFINITELY on the same page regarding many of our thoughts and impressions of this novel! That was GREAT!

      There's really nothing to "forgive you" for, Barb! :)
      I agree that Jane's father deserved what he got. I just wish Justina had depicted his demise in some other way, as I stated in my reply to your question above. I really would have preferred it if Jane could have kept her heroic stature. After reading about how she killed her father the way she did, I had to take her off the lofty pedestal I had placed her on..... I can't help it; this is the way I feel. So we do agree that her father deserved to be killed, but just not in the way it took place in the novel.

      Yeah, I'm VERY happy that we both enjoyed this book! (Despite my disliking the part about Jane's father.) I'm really looking forward to doing a buddy read of the sequel!!

      Yes, King is DEFINITELY out! Thanks, Booker T.!! Lol. I have sent you a message on Goodreads about the possibility of buddy reading "The Hate U Give". Or we could read an urban fantasy or fantasy, if you prefer. I have two reviews for blog tours scheduled -- one for June 25th, and the other for July 16th. I'm sure we could fit something in between these dates somewhere. :) :)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights on "Dread Nation" with me and my readers!! Now I'm looking forward to your review next week!!

      HUGS TO YOU AND THE PUPS, AND WOOF, WOOF TO THEM!! <3 <3 ,3 :) :) :)

    2. I sent you back a reply and hope you got it. I'm totally up for The Hate You Give!

    3. Oh, you mean on Goodreads? I'll go check! YAAAY on "The Hate U Give"!! I had not seen this comment. Going to GR to see!! Thanks for letting me know!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  2. Interesting discussion, guys! Jane is a very complicated character. I went back and forth between loving her and being annoyed at her. I’ll be interested to see what she does in the next book.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Hi, A.J.!

      Thanks for the compliment!! :) :) Yes, we both enjoyed this book, even though we kinda had a difference of opinion regarding the way Jane's father departed from this world. :)

      I DEFINITELY agree that Jane is a very complicated character. I really admired and liked her until....well, you know. But I still want to read the sequel! Barb and I are on for a buddy read of it, when it releases! We're both also interested in Jane's further adventures in this second book!

      Thanks for commenting!! <3 :)


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